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Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Braveheart heads back south in search of more Sussex cash

Mark Johnston: bids to land the Challenge Cup for the second time in three years
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3.30 Brighton
Marathonbet Sportsbook Brighton Challenge Cup Handicap | 1m4f | ATR

If you build the purse, they will come. They are travelling from far and wide for a £20,000 0-80 handicap, including Mark Johnston – who is as familiar a face in Sussex as Yorkshire at this time of year.

Having been crowned top trainer at Glorious Goodwood for the 11th time last week, he now bids to repeat his 2015 success in a race run just over 300 miles from his Middleham base.

"It's very good prize-money for the level so we're keen to have runners," said son and assistant Charlie.

"Curlew River is actually a pound wrong at the weights under a penalty but it's rare that horses in 0-80 grade get to run for £20,000.

"She had a break after her disappointing run at Chelmsford and came back to win in good fashion at Leicester, where the front two pulled a bit clear."

He added: "Star Of Lombardy was disappointing last time at Newcastle but if you go back to her win at Epsom, a mile and a half on decent ground should be her optimum conditions, so we hope she'll run okay."

Doesn't need the cheekpieces

Ed de Giles travels from Herefordshire with high hopes for Prendergast Hill after a string of near-misses.

"He has been brilliant this year without winning," the trainer said. "The handicapper had done us a favour and not raised him as he wouldn't have got in otherwise.

"He handled Epsom adequately so he should be okay on the track and I've dropped the cheekpieces as I don't think he needs them.

"He's in a good place at the moment and the ground won't matter to him – it's a competitive race but he's got a good chance."

Forget his last run

Newmarket trainers won this four years in a row from 2009, and 2011 winner Ed Dunlop hopes to strike again with Sparte Quercus.

"He disappointed on very soft ground at Chester, Richard Kingscote said he hated it," reported Dunlop.

"But he had won well the time before and looked as though he was on an upward trend."

Sparte Quercus (left) bids to resume winning ways

Ismail Mohammed runs Newcastle winner Therthaar and said: "He seems in good form but we'd really like decent ground; there's rain forecast and we wouldn't like firm in it.

"It's his first time at a mile and a half, which should suit given his style of running – if he stays and if he handles conditions he'd have good claims."

Desperate for rain

Jim Boyle will be listening out for weather news as he travels down from Epsom with Inke.

"I'm desperate for the forecast rain to arrive," he said. "She needs decent ground.

"She steps up to a mile and a half, which I hope will suit her. She's a very solid, consistent horse, she runs with her heart on her sleeve, and if the rain comes she should run a decent race."

Trainer to follow here

Backing the horses that Sylvester Kirk brings to Brighton from Lambourn has shown a healthy profit over the last five years and hopes are high for Spinners Ball.

"The ground was way too soft for him at Ascot last time but he'd been running well and he's in great form," the trainer said.

"I hope he'll handle Brighton and it's worth giving it a go – this is a lovely race with good prize-money for 0-80 horses to go at."

She runs with her heart on her sleeve and if the rain comes she should run a decent race

Key data

Mark Johnston
E.W. Terms
Sky bet